16 June 2016

North Again: The Boots, Bikes, Boats & Buddies Tour


We don't have a scheduled itinerary (often don't), but we do know of a few places where we want to hike, cycle and paddle, some folks we'd like to see and a few more memories we want to make. 

IF you read our May 14th post, you'll know that we've sold our home and most of our belongings and that we've shed ourselves of the responsibilities ... THAT reality entails.  When we return in the Fall, it won't be to a new BASECAMP, but to a temporary rental unit, with 1.5 rooms filled with long-term storage boxes, some basic furniture requirements (bed, dresser, couch, desk, couple of chairs), some personal living necessities and a highly stream-lined gear & equipment outfit that supports all the outdoor activities we are still pursuing.

This drive should mark our eleventh crossing of the 60th parallel ... road-tripping to the Canadian North. And, if the weather and road conditions permit, it will also be our seventh drive north of the Arctic Circle where it cuts across the Dempster Highway

So, follow along and read this first installment as we track our journey through ...

from Bath > to the Manitoba border

We had mostly rainy overcast days through Ontario, so we didn't take many photographs. 

This initial leg of the trip took 5+ days. From our new BASECAMP in Bath, it's around 2100 kms to the Manitoba border. We're not in a hurry, averaging about 395 kms / day, on the road no later than 9 am and off by 3:30 - 4:00 pm. We’ve driven all these routes heading west, out of the province several times so we haven't planned any excursions or any layovers. But don't let the fact that we haven't stopped this time discourage you from exploring this beautiful province. The map below only displays the Provincial Parks that are available ... you'll also find private RV Parks, municipal parks and several National Parks ... Bruce Peninsula, Georgian Bay, Point Pelee, Pukaskwa and Thousand Islands.

A personal goal for this adventure (Trip #140) was to connect with as many friends as we could along our way. Our selected route this time, only allows us to visit with a few in Ontario ... first up were visits with Rick, Greg and Wayne in my hometown of Pembroke. Rick & Greg are old grade and high school chums who went on after high school to become helicopter pilots. I haven't seen either in over 40 years, so this was a brief but exciting lunch date. Both Rick and Greg spent time flying with several different Airways, including Great Slave Helicopters out of Yellowknife, NWT. Combined they have flown internationally in South and Central America, Africa, Asia and the Canadian Arctic. They’ve had adventurous careers and both had some fascinating stories to recount ... some folks just get to have exciting lives! 

We followed the Trans-Canada Hwy. 17 out of Pembroke, west through 'Shield Country'. Mostly railway towns along the way, North Bay is the only small city to drive through. From Sudbury, heading west to Massey, the services available for travellers are fairly scarce. There aren’t many camping areas, towns are small and the scenery is quite bland in places. But, once past Sault Ste Marie, the drive follows some of the most scenic landscape in Ontario ... as the Trans-Canada drops down to the Big Lake, the lake they call Gitche Gumee, Lake Superior ... and along the way, views of lupine lined roads, Amish farmers and farms, rapids and waterfalls! 

Millions are being spent on highway improvements in western Ontario this year. We passed at least 6 construction zones between Wawa and Kakabeka Falls that were all dedicated to bridge improvements. After the failure of the Nipigon Bridge, it may only be a coincidence that monies are being directed towards several bridge re-construction projects, like this one.

The last 100+ kilometres west of Dryden, to Kenora and through to the Manitoba boundary is another very scenic part of the province ... lake country, Canadian Shield country, hilly in places. 

Next ... a 5 night layover in Riding Mountain National Park 

Crusty ...


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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty